Monday, 9 July 2018

Splendid day for a lark in the park part 2

The Lark in the Park event on 30th June this year celebrated 140 years since Mayow Park was opened to the public, in 1878. Some people dressed up and some stalls included a Victorian theme though this was not obligatory.
Numerous community groups were respresented with stalls and there was plenty to do at the event.
Voluntary Services Lewisham,  Forest Hill Society and Friends of Mayow Park were there.
Food for the masses was provided by Min Albi (meaning Food from the Heart'), helping Syrian refugees in South London to use their cooking skills to gain work experience and entrepreneurial independence.
Opposite their food stall was the Women's Institute gazebo with some of their delicious cakes available to buy.
Forest Hill Society hosted the Lewisham Swifts group, raising awareness that swift numbers are in decline and how we can help these amazing birds.

Forest Hill Society and Lewisham Swifts
The local Perry Vale Safer Neighbourhood Team was on hand to offer advice.
Dr Bike gave tips and help on caring for your bike.
Dr Bike and local Police. photo S Hatchard
  Free tennis was on offer at the tennis courts. Young children were catered for  with a bouncy castle and soft play area.
Bouncy castle fun - photo S Hatchard
Sydenham Arts provided musical activities in the bowls green.
Brown and Green cafe was open for business as usual.
Usborne Books had a stall which included Victorian toys.
Mayows Mutts, a local group of dogs with their owners, had a dog parade with raffle prizes.

The Friends of Mayow Park stall had a few Victorian activities aimed at children. Children could play quoits, practice skipping with skipping ropes and learn to play hopscotch using chalked markings on the tarmac path.

If that was not enough, they could make Victorian-style brooches.
They could also make thaumatropes. We called them 'spinners' for simplicity.

More on thaumatropes  can be found on this website: 
Every child that took part in an activity received a paper bag printed with pictures of Victorian objects and containing loose sweets;  no plastic bags or plastic-wrapped sweets 140 years ago. 
Paper bag for sweets
     Children also received an additional gift of a small Victorian-style slate board and pencil.
Research for these Victorian related activities was carried out by Pippa, one of the active members of Friends of Mayow Park.
The whole event seemed to go very well. Thank you to Perry Vale ward for organising this enjoyable community event.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Splendid day for a lark in the park Part 1

What a splendid day it was for a lark in the park in Mayow Park on Saturday 30th June 2018.
The event was organised by Lewisham Council's Perry Vale ward as a community event and community stalls were there in numbers. The event joined forces with Sydenham Arts who held their activities in the bowls green so the park was buzzing.  So many people smiling in the sunshine.

Community groups came to set up at 11am and public events  began at midday.
A Victorian theme ran through for some of the stalls in recognition of the 140th anniversary since the opening of Mayow Park to the public in June 1878.
For the Friends of Mayow Park it was also an excuse for a double celebration. The group (formerly known as Mayow Park Users' Group) held their very first official meeting in April 1993 and have been going for 25 years.

In recognition of this double anniversary, Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) set up their stall to face the Victorian water fountain.  The monument commemorates the Rev William Taylor Jones who kick-started the process that was to lead to the creation of Sydenham Public Recreation Ground, later renamed  Mayow Park. While the fountain no longer works, it stands as a proud memorial to the origins of the park.

Putting up the bunting (photo S Hatchard)
Victorian fountain with bunting (photo S Hatchard)
    Our gazebo was installed in a jiffy and soon  all were busy preparing the table, signs and activities.
Getting stall ready (photo A Sheridan)
Gazebo up (photo A Sheridan)

Children's Victorian art and craft activities were part of the FOMP offer and two young people took on much of the work to reach out to members of the public.
Victorian brooch making activity (photo P Moss)
brooch-making preparations (photo P Moss)

Sue and Sandra prepare the thaumatrope activity (photo P Moss)
The FOMP stall displayed a number of items that might be of interest to visitors:
- an article from the Sydenham Society Summer 2018 newsletter, written by Steve Grindlay and explaining the creation of Mayow Park.

- Walk on the Wild Side map of the park showing just a few of the significant trees

    And a scrap book that FOMP volunteers are putting together called 'Mayow Park Memories'.   The front cover is a copy of an original painting by local artist Darren Russell Hayman.                                                                                                               
More about this event to follow.

Thursday, 28 June 2018


Mayow Park is located in Perry Vale ward in the London Borough of Lewisham. The annual Lark in the Park community event will take place this year on Saturday 30th June. Free entry. All welcome.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018


A warm, pleasant evening and over 40 people came on our tree walk round the park on Friday 22nd June at 7pm. We walked round seeking some of the less well-known trees as well as recognising the old, familiar characters. Parkland ornamentals as well as veterans make the trees of Mayow Park so special.
So that children would have a focus  (there were about 8 children there) a sheet with 12 tree names was handed to them. They had to find the trees as we walked round, give the trees a hug or try a bark rubbing, and remember the names of the trees they found. For each tree they received a nature stamp on their sheet.
We came to the black walnut tree Juglans nigra, planted in 1994 by the Friends of Mayow Park (known at that time as Mayow Park Users' group). A non-native tree, it can grow to over 30 metres high. It needs plenty of light and prefers a fertile soil.
Black walnut
Black poplar
Further along the meadow is the black poplar Populas nigra, donated and planted in 2012 by Glendale (the park contractors) to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the Throne. Black poplars can live up to 200 years and this is a native tree. There are other poplars in the park whose age we can only guess at and there was some debate about whether they had been planted before Mayow Park was created.
Majestic Cedar of Lebanon
The majestic evergreen Cedar of Lebanon, originating from Lebanon and the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, stands proudly looking down hill from its vantage point near the De Frene Road entrance.
We found Monkey Puzzle trees and lovely limes, a golden weeping willow and strong hornbeams.

A holm oak which has been a popular climbing tree through the generations. People now in their 40s and 50s bring their own children back to the park to share memories of this tree.
Horse chestnut is still a popular tree in autumn when children gather its conkers. How many can you find in the park?
Plenty of maples were planted in the park in the past, along the path edges.  Some have thrown up suckers and look more like maple bushes than trees. One has formed a den much loved by young children.
Maple den

We must not forget the wonderful veteran English oaks, Quercus robur, many of which were pollarded in bygone days. These are all older than the park and may have once been part of field boundary hedgerows. They are affectionately known as the boundary oaks.  This park has more than 20 such trees. Very old trees like these are valuable for wildlife. They contain dead wood particularly good for many beetles whose larvae feed on dead wood.  Holes also make good homes for nesting birds and small mammals.

One of the wonderful pollarded oaks
A copper beech, a blue cedar, a tulip tree and a tall Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostrboides, are some of the other specials in the park. To appreciate the dawn redwood in all its glory it is worth getting close up, to see the bark and the leaves. This is a deciduous conifer, shedding its leaves every autumn.
Dawn Redwood 

Friday, 15 June 2018


It was great to see Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) volunteers and Glendale staff working together on 12th June 2018 on a joint grounds maintenance project to improve part of the park. This work was not part of the usual maintenance routine but had been identified as work we could do together in  celebration of Mayow Park’s  140th anniversary as a public park and Friends of Mayow Park’s quarter century as a park user group. On 1st June1878 the Sydenham and Forest Hill Public Recreation Ground (later renamed as Mayow Park) was formally opened. Friends of Mayow Park (previously called Mayow Park Users’ Group) held their first meeting in April 1993.
The aims of the joint Glendale and FOMP session were agreed:
  • To clean up the Victorian drinking fountain
  • To resurrect the rockery near the modern drinking fountain
  • To tidy up and make more accessible the fruit and herb beds in the Triangle
  • To thin out the maple suckers which form a lovely den around an old maple tree stump
  • To prune the privet hedge and fruiting hedgerow where the aviary used to be, if time allowed
The Victorian drinking fountain stands as a memorial to the Rev William Taylor Jones and a symbol of Victorian philanthropy. It remains an attractive ornament although the water supply through lead piping was blocked way back in a bygone age. If you look carefully you will see the filled-in holes from which water flowed. Hilary Jarrett, who was Chair of the Friends of Mayow Park in the early this millennium, looked into the possibility of restoring the fountain. However, expert advice warned that such a project would be immensely expensive and risk causing serious damage to the granite fountain. It was far better to keep the fountain as it is for it to remain an acknowledgment of the past.
Victorian fountain  in Mayow Park

The fountain called for a clean-up to celebrate its position in the park and that call was answered by Ian, with a bucket and long- handled brush.  
Ian arrives to spruce it up as a birthday treat

Job done. Fountain cleaned

We now have the modern drinking fountain, beside the rockery,  paid for by a grant to FOMP and installed by Glendale a few years ago, thanks to Hilary’s persistence in seeking funds.


Behind the modern drinking fountain stands a rockery. Every spring flowering bulbs grow in the rockery before the forest of elder, ivy, bindweed, overgrown holly and other plants take over. The rockery was revealed today when the team cut through the dense undergrowth. 
Where is the rockery?
Rockery uncovered and cleared of rubbish

Suitable rockery plants for shade were planted. These were sourced by Glendale, purchased by the Friends and planted by Glendale’s grounds maintenance staff and also acknowledge times past.
Rockery planted

. . . and more plants

Nearby, close to the modern drinking water fountain, the Friends tend fruit and herb beds. Today the fruit bed saw five volunteers hard at work. One started pruning the fruiting hedgerow on two sides of the bed. The others cut back the grass growing round the redcurrant bushes, the raspberry canes and the fruit trees, releasing these plants from hiding. The grass in the central space was also cut so that people can now bring their picnic mats and enjoy a less overlooked space. No photos of this at the moment.

Directly opposite the fruit bed is a bench and a maple tree stump surrounded by maple stems which have suckered up to surround the stump and create a ‘den’ for children and adults to explore. The stump itself is a haven for invertebrates and possibly even elusive stag beetle larvae hiding deep in the dense wood. The suckered growth was overgrown and needed thinning, brambles growing through it and covering the ground.  
Den looking in - before clearing
Den from outside before clearing

So a team armed with loppers, saws and secateurs worked to thin back the maple growth and cut through the brambles. The work also revealed the variegated holly behind the maple stems.  Children and adults can now enter the den without scratching themselves on thorns.
Maple den after clearing

The site near the tennis courts, where the aviary used to be, is referred to as ‘the hard standing’. It has a privet hedge and a fruiting hedgerow. Glendale staff trimmed the privet which had become overgrown and straggly. The fruiting hedgerow was carefully pruned to leave the flowering wild roses which add colour  to the space and encourage insects.
Work in progress
Smile for the camera
Hedge trimmed

Hedgerow pruned

Roses in the hedgerow
Thank you to the FOMP volunteers and  Glendale staff for a productive session and great team work. Our efforts were a fitting celebration of Mayow140 and FOMP 25.
Below are some photos of Glendale staff at work. Someone forgot to take photos of the  FOMP volunteers, but we were there - honest!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Upcoming work session in June 2018

 Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) and Glendale (who manage the park on behalf of Lewisham Council) are getting ready for a joint working session on 12th June 2018 as a celebration event. Friends of Mayow Park first met in April 1993 (as Mayow Park Users' Group) and, for our 25 year anniversary, we would like to mark that occasion by working together with Glendale to brighten up one part of the park.

FOMP volunteers plan to clean up the Victorian granite water fountain in recognition that the park itself celebrates an anniversary - 140 years since it was officially opened to the public.

The fountain circa 1900 provided drinking water to park users

The fountain today as an ornamental reminder of bygone days
The volunteers will also tidy up the Triangle herb and fruit beds in front of the cafe. It there are enough volunteers we may do some additional work in the orchard.
Together with Glendale we will create a new rockery near the modern drinking fountain, an idea suggested by a park user a few years ago.
Somewhere in the undergrowth is a rockery waiting to be uncovered
Opposite the rockery and next to a bench is a wonderful maple 'den' created after a diseased maple tree had to be felled some years ago. The stump is still there but around it have grown suckers to create a dense hideaway. We intend to cut back some of this growth.
Dense growth surrounds the dead tree stump . . . 
. . . but in among the wood there is a great hiding place
And that is not all we plan to do.
We welcome more volunteers, for a short while or the whole session. If you can, bring a trowel or a spade. If you don't have tools we have a few.